One of the world’s most beautiful and unusual landscapes, the exotic Paraná Delta lies just a few kilometres north of Buenos Aires’ Avenida General Paz. Constantly changing due to sediment deposits by the Río Paraná, the Delta region is a wonderfully seductive maze of lush, green islands separated by rivers and streams. Lining the banks, traditional houses on stilts peep out from behind screens of subtropical vegetation. The Delta actually begins at the port of Diamante in Entre Ríos Province, some 450km to the northwest of the city, and its one thousand square kilometres are divided into three administrative sections. By far the most visited area, is the first section, most of which lies within a 90min boat trip from the picturesque town of Tigre, around 25km northwest of Capital Federal. Travel beyond here into the wide Río Paraná de las Palmas, however, and you may be forgiven for thinking that you’ve stumbled onto a tributary of the Amazon. At this point the Delta widens, inhabitants and amenities are much more dispersed and isleños rely on electric generators and kerosene lamps.
The Delta can be visited on a day-trip, but it’s worth taking it in on at least an overnight break from the hectic pace of Buenos Aires. Though for many the Delta’s biggest attraction is that it offers the chance to do not much at all, its numerous waterways are also popular with watersports enthusiasts, as well as devotees of rowing and fishing. Isla Martín García, a former penal colony close to the Uruguayan coast some 40km to the northeast of Tigre, is accessible by a regular boat service and makes for an interesting day or overnight trip. Lots of water and a warm climate unfortunately mean that mosquitoes are a real problem in and around the Delta, so come prepared.Read More
TIGRE owes its poetic name to the jaguars – popularly known as tigres in Latin America – that inhabited the Delta region until the beginning of the twentieth century. The town sits on an island bounded by the Río Luján, the Río Reconquista and the Río Tigre and was first documented in 1635 under the name of El Pueblo de las Conchas, a small settlement that functioned as a defensive outpost against Portuguese invasions. A favoured summer retreat of the Porteño elite in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the town’s sumptuous mansions and palatial rowing clubs date from this period. Back then social life revolved around events at the Tigre Club, home to Argentina’s first casino, and the grand Tigre Hotel, whose clientele included Enrico Caruso and the Prince of Wales. The town’s decline as a glamorous destination was in part a result of the closure of the casino (shut in 1933 through a law which prohibited casinos in the vicinity of the capital) and in part a result of the growing popularity of Mar del Plata, 400km south on the Atlantic coast and ever more accessible thanks to the arrival of the railway and improved roads. The Tigre Hotel was demolished in 1940, although the elegant Tigre Club still stands at the apex of the island and has now been reinvented as the site of the excellent Museo de Arte Tigre.
As a departure point for excursions to the Delta and Isla Martín García, the town itself is sometimes overlooked by tourists. At first glance, it’s a bit of a hodgepodge but don’t be put off by initial impressions – Tigre offers an appealing mix of faded glamour and day-trip brashness. Its bars and restaurants around the refurbished riverside area provide perfect vantage points for an unhurried contemplation of the comings and goings of Delta life.